Kone’s career renaissance continues at Wigan

A disastrous four-year spell at Sevilla remains a stain on Arouna Kone’s career. He joined a side at the peak of their powers after back to back UEFA Cup wins, with club president Jose Maria del Nido professing that they had signed “one of the best attackers in the world.

Despite netting twice in his first few weeks at the club, manager Juande Ramos soon left for Tottenham and Kone struggled to dislodge the likes of Frederic Kanoute, Luis Fabiano and Aleksander Kerzhakov in the starting line-up. Those two early strikes proved to be his only goals in 49 matches for the club, as Kone’s decline mirrored that of Sevilla’s.

Prior to moving to Spain, Ivory Coast international Kone was a prolific scorer in Holland’s Eredivisie, scoring 27 goals in 63 games for Roda before forging his reputation at PSV Eindhoven with a further 21 goals in 53 games. In order to resuscitate his career after falling out of favour and suffering a serious knee injury at Sevilla, Kone joined Levante on loan last season.

His time with Levante proved so successful that he was in danger of scoring too many goals for the club, due to a clause in his loan agreement. He scored 17 goals in all competitions and would have to return to his parent club if he scored 18 times. He instead missed the final few games of the season and Levante exercised an option to buy him at a knock-down price. Their intention was to sell him at a profit, having done the same thing with Manchester City flop Felipe Caicedo the previous year.

Roberto Martinez, a manager with impeccable Spanish contacts, was able to capitalise on this situation in August and recruit a ready-made replacement for Hugo Rodallega. He has three goals in eight league starts thus far, opening his account by dispossessing Jose Fonte on the halfway line before slotting home the second in a 2-0 win at Southampton. He added a close-range consolation goal in the 2-1 home defeat against Fulham and opened the scoring in the 2-2 draw with Everton, a poacher’s effort from a seemingly offside position.

Kone’s partnership up front with Franco Di Santo has already displayed plenty of potential and midfielder Shaun Maloney was effusive in his praise for the pairing after their impressive performance against Everton. “The front two are so vital in the way that we play and I thought they were outstanding in the first half,” he revealed to the club’s official website. “Arouna scored and set up a goal and Franco showed he is in top form. If those two perform like that all season it will give us such an advantage over teams in games.

Martinez has also commented on the need for quality service in order to make optimum use of Kone’s ability. “Arouna is a top goal scorer,” he explained to ESPN. “If anything, we need to develop an understanding of his play and the players around him to get the best out of his ability.

Wigan currently occupy 15th place, as close to mid-table as they are to the bottom three, ahead of a tough trip to Tottenham on Saturday. The form of renaissance man Kone could be the difference between their annual battle against relegation and a much sought after season of progression, stationed further up the table.

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